History was my favorite subject in school. Not that I’m a serious student of history, like, say… Craig. But I certainly enjoy it a heck of a lot more than algebra or chemistry.
Thus, it’s painful to see this tidbit of news (via Insty):
Unfortunately, science is one of our strong subjects. “American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test,” the New York Times reported last year. “Most fourth graders [were] unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure.” The exam found 12% of high school seniors “proficient” in American history.
But statistics can’t measure the outright grotesqueness of our failure. Earlier this year, the Huffington Post reported on “Lunch Scholars,” a high-school student’s video about his fellow students. “Do you know the vice president of the United States?” the filmmaker asks. One student volunteers “bin Laden.” “In what war did America gain independence?” No one had the right answer without a hint.
Gelertner’s proposed solution is an internet centered learning module. The friendly local internet school. I wish that was the answer.
Unfortunately, the reason American school kids are so bad at US history is because the curriculum is designed that way. History textbooks were bad enough when I was a student 30 years ago. Today you could diligently study and pass the learning objectives in most textbooks, and not even be acquainted with the core events of our past that shaped the course of our nation.
The article does note the model of using young students with Education degrees right out of college as teachers is probably a less than optimum model. You’d think the best way to produce a teacher would be to have them form expertise in a certain field, and then add a coursework in instruction. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Robert Eubanks has blogged extensively on current trends in education in the US. You should take a look to see just what pathways the poobahs of the education establishment would like to set us on.